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Director:F.W. Murnau
Cast:George O'Brien, Janet Gaynor, Margaret Livingston, Bodil Rosing, J. Farrell McDonald, Ralph Sipperly
Screen Writer:F.W. Murnau
Genre:Comedy, Silent, Romance, Classic

At the Charles Theatre for two shows: April 3 at noon and April 8 at 9 p.m. Local keyboardist Thomas "Pope" Croke provides live accompaniment.

By Eric Allen Hatch | Posted 3/31/2004

When people speak of the "pure cinema" attained toward the end of the silent-film era--stories told almost entirely through images, with little to no reliance on title cards--they're speaking of masterpieces like F.W. Murnau's captivating 1927 feature Sunrise. The Man (George O'Brien) gives into the urgings of his mistress, the Woman from the City (Margaret Livingston), and plots to murder the Wife (Janet Gaynor). The Man takes the Wife out rowing, but changes his mind just as his spouse realizes his macabre intention. Deeply shaken, they both return ashore, the Man newly in love with the Wife he had grown tired of, The Man must now struggle to win back his wife's trust. What begins as what modern critics would call a psychosexual thriller comfortably shifts into moments of sincerely affecting drama, comedy (especially a memorable barbershop sequence), and romance. The visual ingenuity of this film remains jarring to this day--perhaps not surprising given the filmographies of Murnau (Faust, Nosferatu) and writer Carl Mayer (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari).

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